All the candidates, regardless of party affiliation, should know something about the forthcoming months ["Open Season," Feb. 5]. They will be rejected if they engage in the personal attacks and name calling that we have witnessed in past elections. We need realistic solutions to real problems. They should fire their campaign managers and speechwriters if all they want to do is tear down the other candidates or propose pie-in-the-sky nostrums that haven't a prayer of becoming law. We want character and intelligence. Otherwise, they should drop out now and save us all a lot of irritation.
TIME is already reporting on the 2008 presidential race? What's next, a March issue about Christmas? Considering your dubious past success rate with prognosticationsuch as the seriousness of the Y2K problem and the prospects for Howard Dean's presidential bidyou should either leave the fortune telling to others or upgrade your crystal ball.
Joe Frank Scottsdale, Arizona, U.S.
Why can't the U.S., a great nation of 300 million people, produce any impressive presidential candidates with real opinions, true leadership qualities and world-class stature?
Jean Derouge Gainesville, Florida, U.S.
President George W. Bush has lowered the standard of the presidency so much that everyone feels qualified to hold the office.
Babak Roboubi Chevy Chase, Maryland, U.S.
We should be opposed in principle to a legacy presidency. European settlers in the New World risked life, limb and fortune to escape the monarchies that held power within royal families. The Adamses, Harrisons, Roosevelts and Bushes have given us ample experience with all-in-the-family presidencies. With the notable exception of the Roosevelts, legacy Presidents have been mediocre. There are plenty of qualified candidates in the race with names other than Clinton or Bush. Let's elect one of them next year.
Craig Cranston Williamsburg, Virginia, U.S.
Much has been made of recent polls showing that among black voters Hillary Clinton is favored by a large margin over Barack Obama. The (mostly white) talking heads have twisted themselves into knots trying to explain it. Let me help them out. We in the black community know full well that not enough white Americans will go into the voting booth and pull the lever for a black man to be President, so we don't want to throw our votes away on an underdog black candidate. And 90% of black voters do not vote Republican because, while we might not always know who is for us, we definitely know who is against us.
Vernon S. Burton San Leandro, California, U.S.
I say, Al Gore for president. Forget about the economy, jobs and other people-centered issues. We need to save the earth first.
Vince D'Souza Gladstone Park, Australia
Imagining a New NATO
In Light of the Global Threat of Terrorism, Walter Isaacson asked, "What would George Marshall and Dean Acheson be doing now?" [Feb. 5]. Isaacson suggested that they might be forging a Mideast Antiterrorism Organization (MATO) whose members would include Israel and Iraq. I doubt it. I rather suspect that Marshall and Acheson would be saying they told us so. Both men were vehemently opposed to the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine because they recognized that it was immoral and that it would open up a can of worms that would haunt the region and the U.S. for decades to come.
Adam Edwards Lindgo, Sweden
Isaacson's proposal for a MATO is such a simple yet sound idea. The U.S. has squandered much of its soft powerthe goodwill of so much of the world after 9/11and is bumping up against the limits of its hard power. A MATO is much needed, sooner rather than later.
Quincy Scott San Antonio, Texas, U.S.
Re "Virgil Goes Viral" [Jan. 22]: as a high school Latin student, I am thrilled to see the classics getting recognition in new translations, histories, biographies, movies and TV shows. While the classics have been a key part of "proper" education for centuries, they have been somewhat forgotten by our modern culture. The evidence of this negligence is seen in dwindling enrollment in classics courses and, most unfortunately, dwindling funding for classics programs and the students enrolled in them. The classics are a key to how our civilization was shaped. I hope that people remember all aspects of the ancients and their influence on our lives, not just the action in epic movies, however historically accurate they may be.
Ryan Shedd West Chester, Pennsylvania, U.S. Michael Elliott's references to the eternal human truths contained in the classics capture the enriching element of ancient literature. The ancient heroes were no muscle-bound war machines, as they are unfortunately depicted in computer games. Their politicians were deft verbal strategists, as the politics of the time required them to be. Letters home from Roman soldiers, preserved by the dry sands of Egypt, reveal sentimental and faithful sons urging their fathers to write back after experiencing the fury and terror of battle, setting fire to other nations' houses and selling entire families to slave traders. Elliott was also right in his remark on the doubtful sexual appetites of the greatest of all ancient peoples, the Greeks, which they justified with philosophy. This is also the fascination of reading ancient literature: learning about the complexity of the human character.
Eugen Scherer Vienna More Trees, Fewer Chimneys
I was pleased to read "Lost in the Forest" [Jan. 29], about the plans of some companies to compensate for their CO2 emissions by planting trees. This is a nice first step. But we also need a worldwide organization with a lot of political and economical power to force companies of every country to reduce CO2 emissions.
Gerrit Röpke Verden, Germany The Personal Is Environmental
Re "Kyoto, Heal Thyself" [Jan. 29]: I want to believe that we Japanese are born loving and cherishing nature. However, I feel that we are not taking action. Despite the trend toward hybrid cars overseas, many young Japanese are attracted to huge SUVs, which burn more fuel and take up more space in the already crowded streets of our cities. We throw away our cell phones within a year and replace them with the latest models so that we can show off to our friends. Let's not leave it up to the government or technology to solve environmental issues for us.
Makiko Kawamura Urayasu, Japan All Eyes on Iran
Peter Beinart's "Stop Obsessing about Iran" [Jan. 29] was unconvincing. Iraq's Shi'ite community could indeed form a fifth column in Iraq or at least form new alliances with Iran. Beinart observed that Iraq's Shi'ites have never launched a secessionist movement. That isn't surprising, since Saddam Hussein's suppression did not allow for much sectarian expression. Much of the pent-up anger under Saddam's regime is now finding an outlet in brutal daily violence. Iran will not hesitate to support an embattled Shi'ite community with all the means at its disposaljust look at Iran's meddling in Lebanon in support of its proxy Hizballah.
Isaac Gerstman Tel Aviv When They Were in L.A.
Canadian turned California dreamer Denny Doherty, a tenor and founding member of the successful but short-lived group the Mamas and the Papas, died last month. Way back in a different era, TIME sized up the folk-pop foursome when the performers were practically still just kids [Oct. 28, 1966]:
"The Mamas and the Papas are two beards, a beauty and a Big Bertha. After knocking around the fringes of folk music separately for a few lean years, they joined forces in 1965 and made their first single, California Dreamin'. It went straight to the top of the best-seller charts, as did their next release, Monday, Monday. Papa John Phillips, 25, an Annapolis dropout, is the group's songsmith, and what his lyrics lack in depth his melodies make up in lilting appeal. Phillips' wife Michelle, a willowy ex-model, is the spiraling soprano; Denny Doherty, 24, sings a secure tenor. Anchor girl is rotund (200 lbs.) Cass Elliot, 23, whose ringing contralto gives the quartet its oomph. Together they build a buoyant vocal blend that floats easily through intricate harmonic shifts, toying with rhythms that are as fresh and bracing as ocean breezes. The quartet is now on a highly successful college tour, stands to make $1,000,000 this year." Read more at timearchive.com.